Notes on Goyder’s Line

I’ve submitted a proposal to perform my work, Goyder’s Line (2014-2017) at this year’s Australasian Computer Music Conference which is taking place in Adelaide this year. I’ve reproduced the text of my proposal/abstract below. Although I’ve regularily commented on the inspiration and development of Goyder’s Line in the past on this blog, I feel as though this text perfectly sums up the essence of the work. With thanks to L for her thoughts and input.


The plains that I crossed in those days were not endlessly alike. Sometimes I looked over a great shallow valley with scattered trees and idle cattle and perhaps a meagre stream at its centre. Sometimes, at the end of a tract of utterly uncompromising country, the road rose towards what was unquestionably a hill before I saw ahead only another plain, level and bare and daunting. Gerald Murnane, The Plains (1982)

The plains surrounding the ghost town of Dawson are situated in the lower Flinders Ranges – a vast arena of ochre-coloured earth and sparse vegetation. The presence of distant hills that stretch around the plains appear to reinforce the utter stillness of this place. As if time and motion are suspended or are just inclined to unfold at their own pace. As one spends more time in this place, its unique properties are revealed. A subtle scent carried on a breeze that sends a rustle through dry leaves, the droning buzz of busy insects, the brief relief that lies in the shadows of clouds drifting slowly over the terrain and discrete rumbles that exist just on the audible periphery.

Sometime during 1865, a few kilometres south of where Dawson would be settled twenty-three years later, George Goyder was travelling across the region on horseback. Goyder, who was the South Australian colony’s Surveyor-General had been tasked with the duty of mapping the boundary between areas that received regular rainfall and those that were prone to drought. Based on Goyder’s Line of Rainfall and the subsequent report detailing his findings, farmers were discouraged from planting crops north of the line. In most instances, this advice was not heeded.

At the beginning of the 21st Century as much of Australia was enduring the Millennium Drought (1997-2009), Goyder’s Line became a point of reference for meteorologists, climate scientists and farming communities. During the drought it became evident that the line of rainfall as identified by Goyder in the late 19th Century – whilst being subsequently regarded as a highly accurate tool of analysis and agricultural planning for most of the following century – was requiring reassessment and pointed to a southward trend in light of protracted drought, shifting seasonal rainfall patterns and the impact of anthropogenic climate change.

Goyder’s original line of rainfall and a recent 21st Century revision inform the basis of this electro-acoustic work. The lines – their relative patterns and trajectories- represent the fundamental frequencies of two sawtooth waves, which are routed as inputs to a vocoder and extended effects modules. Although each of the frequencies remain distinct throughout the work, the resulting modulations reveal expansive sonorities and rich harmonic textures. At regular iterations the lines are purposefully suspended in parallel, allowing their harmonic relationship and modulations to unfold and develop.

I regard this work as an ode to the South Australian interior, as defined by Goyder’s original line and its contemporary revision. The interior, at its boundary appears as a vast, seemingly boundless space – rich with the possibility of uncertainty, terror and fascination.

TLR, July 2017


Goyder’s Line v.3 in the works

I’m currently in the process of revising the Goyder’s Line Max/MSP patch with the intention of streamlining the drawing process and adding some additional features to the interface.

In addition to this, the work will be expanded with the incorporation of a video component for a potential exhibition/performance of the work in the future. A summary and audio of of v.2 (2015) can be found below.

A snippet of the revised Max/MSP patch

Goyder’s Line Version 2 release notes (accompanying the Maurilia Sound Studio Volume 4 edition):

“Goyder’s Line” – recorded in April 2015 – is a composition for Max/MSP, vocoder and effects modules. For its structure and form, the work references the geographical boundary (or isopleth) pioneered by George Goyder in the mid-1880’s to denote and determine patterns of rainfall in South Australia. The work’s sonic character (derived from sawtooth waves and the feedback of a Moog MF-108M module) results in a continuous drone; consisting of rich, wavering harmonic tones and textures which are intended to be evocative of the colours, climate, topography and relative stillness of the landscapes that Goyder’s Line passes through.

The Fleurieu Peninsula and KI rendered 1:1500 in Minecraft


The Fleurieu Sound Map project just became really nerdy. Minecraft ‘architect’, lentebriesje is attempting to create the Earth at 1:1500 in Minecraft. So far the USA, South America, Europe and Australia have been created.

The above screengrab is the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. You can take a running jump over the Lower Lakes near the Murray Mouth.

Fleurieu Sound Map update: Gum Tree Swamp (Cox Scrub CP)

A new addition to the Fleurieu Sound Map.

Listen here.

The Gum Tree Swamp in Cox Scrub Conservation Park is located near the main car park. The recent winter rains have left the swamp swollen with water that extends deep into the scrub and spills over a fire track. In the late afternoon the swamp is teeming with life – Eastern Banjo Frogs, Common Froglets and a variety of birds.

Fleurieu Sound Map update: Sugars Beach

A new addition to the Fleurieu Sound Map.

It’s been awhile since the last FSM update as I’ve been rather busy thee past couple of months with other Fleurieu-centric things happening. Here’s a new addition from Sugars Beach on Hindmarsh Island.

More to come next month.

Dawn has just broken over Hindmarsh Island. I have arrived at Sugars Beach on the south eastern fringe of the island, which overlooks the Murray Mouth and marks the beginning of Coorong National Park and the lower lakes of Alexandrina. The tide is still low and from the beach, a long peninsula of sand extends out about a hundred metres to a larger area where flocks of birds (terns, gulls, pelican, cormorants, shags) are gathering. Every so often a group of birds will launch into the morning sky, filling the air with cries and the beating of wings whilst the distant roar of the Mouth is foregrounded by the gentle ebbing of the morning tide.

Field recording on the Fleurieu Peninsula since January 2011

This map documents where I’ve made field recording for the Fleurieu Sound Map and upcoming work for Southern Encounter in October 2012.


Pink – industrial/man made/town centres, etc.

Yellow – on land: relatively barren, dry, open landscape (paddocks, sand dunes, etc.)

Green – on land: relatively lush, dense landscape (plentiful vegetation, forests, etc.)

Light Blue – on water (or near water).

Light Blue (pinned) – on water or near water within a resonant space. (i.e. Rapid Bay cave)

Dark Blue – water or sub strait based recording made with hydrophone/geophone.